Like all Gettysburgians, Amanda Fasenmyer ’09 wanted to do work that would leave the world in a better place than when she started. For that reason, Gettysburg College immediately resonated with her because of its altruistic culture.
“Something I immediately loved about Gettysburg is that it has a charitable focus and a huge community of giving back—most students are involved in something that’s community-oriented,” said Fasenmyer, a first-generation college student from rural Pennsylvania.
Fasenmyer’s dedication to giving back to communities translated into a successful career in the nonprofit world. Today, she is the Director of Corporate Philanthropy for SPUR, the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association. SPUR is a member-supported non-profit organization that promotes good planning and good government in the San Francisco Bay Area through research, education, and advocacy. Their main policy foci are housing, transportation, sustainability, and economic development. According to Fasenmyer, since its founding in 1910, SPUR has been instrumental in virtually every major planning issue in the region, from the formation of the Bay Area Rapid Transit District to the creation of the Golden Gate National Park.
At SPUR, Fasenmyer works regionally to engage the business community and corporate partners in policy conversations, events, giving, and membership. This is Fasenmyer’s second stint with SPUR. She briefly left to work at Steinberg Hart, a global design, architecture, and planning firm, but was ultimately called back to non-profit work.
According to the Silicon Valley Business Journal, who named Fasenmyer to their “40 Under 40 List” in 2019, she helped to “boost corporate donations to [SPUR] by 29 percent, add more than 80 new corporate members, and keep an 86 percent member renewal rate” during her first tenure at SPUR. She was also named a “changemaker” by Gentry Magazine the same year.
SPUR’s more current projects have included partnering with other organizations to secure additional transportation funding for the South Bay in order to make transportation cleaner, more efficient, and run more frequently, as well as advocating for different housing policies that help create density around transit nodes and support smart growth in the Bay Area.
Fasenmyer believes that SPUR’s approach is particularly effective because they’re both a think tank and an action tank. That approach is reminiscent of the First-Year Seminar she took on homelessness at Gettysburg, which was taught by English Prof. Chris Fee. Fasenmyer recalled appreciating that not only was the seminar committed to theory, it was also dedicated to practice. She reflected, “We did a lot of readings, watched documentaries, and had engaging discussions on homelessness, and then, we actually went out into the field and took action.” The class volunteered at the D.C. Central Kitchen, a nonprofit that recycles food from around Washington, D.C., to provide meals for local service agencies and trains unemployed adults to develop job skills. She also worked at a local Gettysburg soup kitchen.
That commitment to deep thinking coupled with real action is what attracted her to SPUR. She said, “SPUR is really great about bringing together the nonprofit, government, civic, and private world into the same conversations, which doesn’t happen often enough in order to get things done. SPUR makes things happen.”
At Gettysburg, Fasenmyer majored in management and minored in film studies. She took advantage of the Center for Global Education, and appreciated that her scholarship applied to a semester abroad. “I love that Gettysburg has a liberal arts approach and a robust study abroad program but that I could still major in management. It was the best of both worlds for me,” she said. She also credits the Center for Career Engagement with connecting her to both an externship and internship in Los Angeles that ultimately led her to settle on the West Coast. After graduation, Fasenmyer earned her MBA in sustainable management from Presidio Graduate School and will complete an MPA from the same school in May.
From her time at Gettysburg until the present, Fasenmyer has lived her belief in the power of giving back and making a positive impact on the world. “I believe it’s really important to support the institutions that you believe in—even if it’s at low levels. I give monetarily to organizations that matter to me and engage with them in other ways. It makes you feel more connected.”
By Katelyn Silva
Photos by Laura Layera